An Elliot Forsman Mystery (#1)
An old man is brutally murdered while out for his morning walk on Mount Royal.
Dissatisfied with the police investigation, his son, Elliot Forsman, is compelled to leave his criminology professorship so he can focus his fledgling PI practice on finding his father’s killer. Elliot and his partner, former policewoman Rivka Goldstein, track down the killer only to find themselves caught in a web of corporate conspiracy and hired mercenaries where even the local police cannot be trusted.
Hopelessly in over his head, Elliot abandons the case in an effort to prevent further harm to the people closest to him. Soon after, he stumbles across information that rocks the very foundation of his beliefs and is forced to take up the investigation again. Knowing that he is outmanned, Elliot enlists a man from his past to help combat his adversaries, a man with a history of violence, who understands the deadly world that the mercenaries live in.
Before justice can be served, Elliot must first save his partner from evil personified and overcome his own demons while doing so.
The Elliot Forsman Book Series
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Grok Consulting Inc.
All rights reserved. The scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the express written consent of the author is unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property.
Originally e-published in February 2016
Current version (v2.0c)
Cover Art by Grok Consulting Inc.
A special thank you to my beta review team (whom I won’t name for fear of missing someone, but you know who you are). I could not have finished without your feedback.
I will mention by name some of the team members who went above and beyond:
Book Magic Proofreading & Copyediting
“Sometimes it takes a tragic event to propel oneself to greater heights.”
The reluctant PI
Thursday, March 31, 8:20 a.m.
Hubert Forsman wiped the sweat from his brow as he crested the trail and looked behind to admire the view. It was
his reward to himself for completing the climb. The path he hiked rose above the city just to the east of Montreal General Hospital and, beyond where he stood, to a patchwork of trails that explored the top of Mount Royal.
He looked up at the morning sky; the clouds were the color of dirty wool punctuated only by the ghostly white silhouette of the sun trying in vain to punch through the overcast. Hubert looked southeast over the city toward the US border, his eyes drawn to the rows of housing that stretched down and out from the mountain as far as he could see. The uniformity of the countless buildings was interrupted by the bloated hulk of the dormant Olympic stadium in the distance. Its only purpose now was as a bleak reminder of the corruption and decadence of a past administration. To the south,
through the jutting high-rises, he saw the flattened ribbons of farmland that covered the St. Lawrence River valley. It was, as always, a stunning view.
Having regained his breath, Hubert turned and continued up the last few pitches on the trail, and at the last of the steep pitches, he slowed down again to savor the feeling of accomplishment. Once again, he had conquered the mountain. He knew the day was not far off when the mountain would win, when he’d give up and not make it to the top, or worse when he wouldn’t even bother to try.
Hubert was turning a corner on the path, cinching the sides of his jacket together to keep out the cool breeze, when he saw two men walking along the trail toward him. At first, Hubert thought the smaller man must have been unusually short, but as they neared, he saw that the larger man was disproportionate. He was enormous, tall and thick bodied with a head like a bread box. Hubert often encountered people on the trails but knew instantly that these two were not out for a walk. He removed his glasses, folded them, slipped them into his shirt pocket and continued walking toward the fate that awaited him. His only hope was that his son would look for the clues he had left behind.
The two strangers stopped when they reached the elderly man. The larger man stood off to the side looking around as if he were standing guard, and the smaller man asked, “Excuse me, sir. We’re looking for Hubert Forsman.”
“That would be me. How can I help you?”
No sooner had the words left his lips than a massive fist from the larger man crashed into the side of Hubert’s head. He went to the ground like a wet rag, and
the smaller man looked questioningly at his enormous companion; was he dead already?
All doubt was removed when the big man picked up a heavy, flat rock from the side of the path and crushed the elderly man’s skull. The smaller man found Hubert’s wallet, removed the cash and threw the wallet into the trees.
The two men went back the way they had come, neither saying another word.
Four weeks later.
Elliot opened the fridge hoping that something would appear appetizing but already knew he was wasting his time. He was tempted to pull a Budweiser from its docking ring but decided against it.
, he thought. He took out a couple of slices of white enriched for a sandwich. The bread was starting to harden around the edges, so he tossed a pair into the microwave for a couple of spins before they were ready to receive two rounds of salami and a square of plastic cheese. He wasn’t terribly fond of salami or processed cheese but found that neither of them spoiled easily.
He usually turned on the television when he got home even if he didn’t watch it. He found that the background prattle of a game show helped fill the quiet of an empty house, but he did not turn on the TV tonight. Now that he knew that the police’s investigation of his father’s murder would not provide closure, it was time to roll up his sleeves and get involved.
He sat in front of the aquarium absentmindedly eating his supper while watching a legion of Black Tetras dart from side to side. Occasionally, the Tetra swarm would whiz close to the sucker fish, seeming to dare it to release its hold on the glass and join the chase. It never did. He realized that he was like the sucker fish. He’d been sitting on the sidelines doing nothing while the world moved on around him.
Elliot had been rolling the events of last month around in his mind with no clear intent. He knew from experience that although he wasn’t consciously making an attempt to analyze the events of the murder, a part of his brain had been busy processing the facts.
I need to wake up that part of my brain tonight. I need to let go of my hold on the glass and join the Tetras.
Elliott pushed the empty sandwich plate aside and replaced it with paper an
d pen. The facts of the murder were sparse, but he jotted them down on a notepad anyway. He learned long ago that writing out the facts allowed him to organize his thoughts.
- Dad was killed on his morning walk.
- He usually took his walk between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m.
- The murderer bludgeoned him to death in a location that was hidden from view and then took his wallet.
- The murderer discarded the wallet and presumably took whatever cash was there.
- The murderer did not take the credit cards.
- The murderer did not take Dad’s expensive watch.
- There were no witnesses. The police canvassed the area, but the only person who saw anything was a jogger who happened upon the body at approximately 9:10 a.m.
- The police are calling it a crime of opportunity.
- There is no known motive for anything other than what it appears to be—a robbery gone bad.
Looking at the watch and wallet itemized on the list reminded him of the box of personal effects that the police had returned last week. He had opened it when it arrived to do a quick inventory of the contents; everything looked to be in order, so the box had been put aside. He fetched it and spilled the contents out on the table. The wallet looked as though it might hold some secrets, so he emptied it. There was the requisite plastic: credit, health, and other assorted ID cards. There were also a number of tattered business cards that looked like they’d been printed by Guttenberg. He ignored them. There was no cash or any of the hidden clues that he was hoping for, so he put it all back in the wallet and moved on.
The other items from the box were a Rolex watch, his keys, his glasses and $3.45 in change.
He picked up each item in turn, inspected it and silently asked himself if it made sense that his father would have this on his person at the time of his death. The Volvo key chain had four keys attached, and he idly rubbed a scratch on one of the keys with his thumb as he thought about what he would do with his father’s car. He decided that it wasn’t worth selling. He’d keep it for when his son came back from school to visit.
The last item he picked up was his father’s glasses. He wondered why they weren’t broken. He would have expected them to be crushed given the violent manner of the murder, so he pulled Detective Renaud’s business card from his own wallet. Detective Renaud had been assigned to his
father’s murder, but Elliot also knew him as one of his students in a Logical Deduction course that he taught at the university.
Yves Renaud was a short, wiry man, who dressed as sharply as the part in his hair. He was a good detective and someone Elliot trusted without question. It irked him that he had come up with the “crime of opportunity” scenario for his father’s murder, but Elliot understood the position the city police were in. Understaffed and overworked, their mandate was to close as many cases as possible. In order to be successful, they focused on crimes that provided the best chance for resolution. The lack of evidence, in this case, dictated their choices. He didn’t agree with that strategy, but then, nobody asked him.
When they last parted ways, Detective Renaud gave Elliot his card and told him he could call him anytime if he had questions. Elliot had a question, so he called.
“Oui, Allo,” Yves Renault answered.
“Hello, Yves. Elliot Forsman here,” he said and without waiting for a response followed with, “you know that your investigation was bullshit.”
Elliot caught him off guard with that jab, and Yves hesitated for a moment before replying, “Hello to you too, Elliot. Yes, I’m doing fine. Yes, the wife and kids are also fine. Thank you for asking. Now that we have put the pleasantries aside, is there something I can do for you? Oh, what’s that? You’d like to comment on the way I handled your father’s investigation. Please go ahead and tell me what you think.”
He sounded more than a little put off by Elliot’s terse analysis. “Just yanking your chain, Yves,” Eliot replied to defuse the situation.
“Well, for the record, the department determined that there wasn’t enough evidence
to warrant looking any further than we did.”
“And off the record?”
“Off the record…” He started and Elliot knew he was calculating how much he could say.
“There was pressure from above to stop pursuing the investigation and wrap it up quickly.”
“Who would have the juice to make that call, and why would they do it?”
“The explanation I got was that they wanted me back on the Gangs and Guns program. A number of street gang members have been killed over the past couple of years, and none of the competing street gangs is taking credit for these murders. This has the gangs pointing fingers at each other, and the entire situation could blow up if we aren’t careful. I’m not sure who gave that order, but it would be someone far above my pay grade.” The detective paused to let it sink in. “So you call me at home, in the evening, just to bust my balls? At least, you could have done it during the day while I’m on the job.”
“Sorry, I got sidetracked. I was really calling because I have a question about Dad’s murder. I was going through his personal effects, and I see that his glasses are not damaged. Did they fall off during the struggle?”